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Poor going poorer: Commercialization of rice farming and food shortage in the Usangu Plains, Tanzania: 1986–2010s

George Ambindwile


This study explores the impact of commercial rice farming on peasants’ food security in the Usangu Plains between 1986 and the 2010s. It specifically analyses how commercialisation of rice farming has affected peasant’s food sovereignty/ self-sufficiency from the mid-1980s. The study uses the political economy approach in explaining this relationship. Drawing from archival, oral and secondary sources, it examines how commercial rice farming affected food provision and security in the Usangu Plains. Besides, it provides an historical account of the commercialisation of rice farming, which was seen by the state as a viable strategy to agricultural development, and therefore food security to the nation and peasants. The study argues that the commercialisation of rice farming has not only negatively affected the food security of peasants—especially the poor—but has also led to their impoverishment and aggravated poverty. Impliedly, the feudal-capitalist system that geminated from this form of commercialisation has benefited few rich farmers and traders, leaving the majority poor into miseries.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2591-6831
print ISSN: 0856-9622